Can the American Center Hold?

The main aftereffect of the 2016 election could well be found in the lines of Yeats' prophetic The Second Coming, where the Irish poet wrote: 

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre

    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Will things in America fall apart? Will anarchy be loosed on the land? Can the center hold?

There is a convergence of several trends that make it unwise to dismiss such questions as out of hand. Look at just two of them -- debt and the question of legitimacy. 

The recognized federal government debt alone is $20 trillion. When state and municipal debt is added to that, the total grows to $22.5 trillion. To this, unfunded liabilities of government should be added. These are promises that government has made to various people and groups. It includes Social Security, Medicare, government pensions, and the like. Estimates on the unfunded government liabilities range from a 'low' of $30 trillion to $128 trillion per Sen. Coburn (R-Okla) 

This level of debt is unprecedented. We are in uncharted waters. 

So why is the public so blasé to this historic and ruinous mountain of debt? One reason is because most people do not understand the numbers involved. As I've seen it explained, if from the time of Jesus, you spent a million dollars a day up until now, you still would not have spent a trillion dollars. And that is just one trillion dollars.

Another thing people do not fully grasp is what government debt entails. It is not free money. It is, as Thomas Jefferson said, thievery from future generations. It is boosting current government spending and passing the cost on to our children, grandchildren, and on down. And what is so sad about this situation is that much of government spending is squandered. It comes from the political establishment -- Democrats and Republicans -- shamefully buying votes, growing bureaucracies, and peddling favored treatment to corporations, fat cat donors, and other money interests.

It would be remiss not to point out the media involvement in all this. Realize that debt is the fuel for government expansion. Without massive debt, the governments we live under -- federal, state, and even local -- would never have come close to reaching the intrusive scale they have. The average Joe and Jane have been lulled to sleep as the dangers of this debt by a mainstream media which is fully complicit in the project of building ever bigger government. The media does this by downplaying the debt problem when it doesn't ignore it entirely. Many times more air time and print space is given to what Donald Trump said off the record 11 years ago than, say, the explosion of federal debt under Barack H. Obama. This is journalistic maleficence in the extreme.

To paraphrase Trotsky, people may not interested in the government debt problem, but the debt is interested in them.   

Although they have started to wake up, it has not yet fully dawned on the Millennials that it will be they who are left holding the bag for this debt. It will crimp their lifestyles and stunt their economic opportunities. When this realization comes, it will radically change attitudes and voting patterns. Some say that this will shift the younger generation to the Left as evidenced by the support Crazy Bernie garnered in the Democrat primaries. But perhaps not. For when the seed corn for the future has been eaten by current consumption, all the protesting and demands in the world can't bring it back. The only logical option is to suck it up and move forward. This will not be pleasant situation, but it is the only way to build a better future. 

Another group especially vulnerable to the mountain of debt is seniors. As the ever-growing debt squeezes the life out of the economy, retirees will come to realize the unsustainability of government promises to them like Social Security, Medicare, and pensions. Seniors will instinctively turn to the government exactly at the time when Washington is less able to help them. 

The growth of a debt of the size we have smacks of government irresponsibility. The coming awareness of this can only reduce the credibility of government even further.  And this is a segue to the question of government legitimacy. 

So where to begin? 

National Public Radio (NPR), a liberal source, reports a Pew polls showing that less than 1 in 5 Americans say they trust the government 'always or most of the time,' 81 percent do not trust the government, and 74 percent say public officials put their own interests ahead of the nation's. 

And these dismal poll numbers for trust in government came before damaging revelations like:

1) the constant bungling of the Veterans Administration where civil service rules have priority over care for our vets

2) the FBI's shameful white washing of Hillary Clinton's email actions that are, or border on the, criminal, and 

3) the Wikileaks dumps showing how Hillary Clinton peddled influence for, what looks to any objective observer, donations to her Clinton Foundation.

So how about the people's representatives?

A Rasmussen poll (July 2016) found only 11 percent of respondents thought Congress was going a good or excellent job. Gallup found similar results with congress having a 20 percent approval rating and a 76 percent disapproval rating.

However it is cut, wherever you look, whether it is in polls, in conversations around the family table, in neighborhoods or around the office water cooler, you find faith in the federal government is shockingly low. 

Now for pièce de résistance. 

This is the presidential campaign. Events such as the Wikileaks dumps have shown Hillary Clinton to be an extremely corrupt government official and a bold-faced liar. This narrative is so solid that she's been labeled a liar to her face on the national stage. Indeed, Trump even called for her prosecution and jailing. How could he get away with that? Simple. It's because merely 11 percent of the American public believe Mrs. Clinton is trustworthy -- and rightfully so. 

Even Hillary Clinton's supporters accept the fact of her inherent duplicity. Unfortunately, many will still vote for her anyway for the flimsy reason that she's a woman. Others want 'free stuff,' hoping that she's not lying to them, too. 

It has been clear for over a generation that the media has a severe liberal bias. In this presidential race, Trump has expose the mass media as being a propaganda arm of the Clinton campaign. It was just recently reported by the Center for Public Integrity that, of the money journalists have contributed to the campaigns, 96 percent went to Clinton

Trump has driven this point home with a such a vengeance that the mainstream media has been stripped of its pretense of objectivity, balance, and fairness. It now stands as naked as the fabled emperor without clothes. This explains why Gallup estimates that only 32% of Americans have trust in the media, an all-time low. And as the revelations in the Wikileaks dumps sink in and Trump's charges resonate, this approval rating can only sink further.

And it is not just lack of trust in the media that is eroding its influence. The number of people who live in the liberal media bubble diminishes by the day. This is due to the growth of alternative news sources like talk radio, cable TV, and the Internet. The old media's monopoly has been broken. Also, the blind reliance on the mass media for one's news is a carryover from days past. As the generation brought up of Cronkite and Huntley & Brinkley and magazines like Newsweek, Time, and Life fade, so does the mass media's captive audience.

As for Trump and the matter of his legitimacy, the Clinton campaign is not running on Mrs. Clinton's achievements. How could they, as the woman's record as Secretary of State is one failure after another? As for her one six-year stint in the Senate, Hillary did little more than take up space and prepare her run for the presidency. So instead, the Democrats and their accomplices in the media are directing their energy at trying to demonizing Trump and his supporters, much like the Obama campaign successfully did to Mitt Romney in 2012. 

The point here is that, whoever wins the White House in November, their legitimacy is going to be tainted. This will make it extremely hard to govern. Even the legitimacy of the election process is being doubted by 41 percent of the country, who think the presidential election is rigged to favor Clinton, much like the primaries were.

We live in a representative democracy that requires the consent of the governed. With the legitimacy of Congress, the presidency, government agencies (the VA, the FBI, the IRS, Department of Education, etc.), the mass media, and even the election process itself in question, it can honestly be asked: "Can the American center hold?" If not, any bad event or set back like a recession, a major default, or horrific terrorist attack can send things spiraling in ways completely unimagined right now.

The ruling elite know the center they control is spinning at such a terrific speed that the resulting centrifugal force is flinging the various groups in society further and further apart. The trust in government and major institutions like the media were the glue that once held things together. Now, the solvent of corruption and lies is dissolving that glue. Trust is fading fast across the entire spectrum of society. Ditto legitimacy.

What can bring things back together again from the establishment's perspective? One tried and true method is war. 

I pray that I'm wrong, but don't discount the real possibility that the establishment might reach for this option. There are many in the political class who are on a constant war footing as it is. Think of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and the like. Include Hillary Clinton in with this group.

And the war required to solidify the center again can't just be relative minor like the ones the U.S. conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has to be a war that touches all levels of American society. Only war with China or Russia fit that bill.

Crazy thought, right? I hope so. But realize Yeats wrote his Second Coming in 1919. Ten years after that, the Great Depression started and ten years after that, WWII began in Europe. Yeats' time was that of the telegraph and propeller biplanes. We live in the age of cell phones, supersonic jets, the computer, and the Internet. Things today happen orders of magnitude faster than back in 1919.

The main aftereffect of the 2016 election could well be found in the lines of Yeats' prophetic The Second Coming, where the Irish poet wrote: 

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre

    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Will things in America fall apart? Will anarchy be loosed on the land? Can the center hold?

There is a convergence of several trends that make it unwise to dismiss such questions as out of hand. Look at just two of them -- debt and the question of legitimacy. 

The recognized federal government debt alone is $20 trillion. When state and municipal debt is added to that, the total grows to $22.5 trillion. To this, unfunded liabilities of government should be added. These are promises that government has made to various people and groups. It includes Social Security, Medicare, government pensions, and the like. Estimates on the unfunded government liabilities range from a 'low' of $30 trillion to $128 trillion per Sen. Coburn (R-Okla) 

This level of debt is unprecedented. We are in uncharted waters. 

So why is the public so blasé to this historic and ruinous mountain of debt? One reason is because most people do not understand the numbers involved. As I've seen it explained, if from the time of Jesus, you spent a million dollars a day up until now, you still would not have spent a trillion dollars. And that is just one trillion dollars.

Another thing people do not fully grasp is what government debt entails. It is not free money. It is, as Thomas Jefferson said, thievery from future generations. It is boosting current government spending and passing the cost on to our children, grandchildren, and on down. And what is so sad about this situation is that much of government spending is squandered. It comes from the political establishment -- Democrats and Republicans -- shamefully buying votes, growing bureaucracies, and peddling favored treatment to corporations, fat cat donors, and other money interests.

It would be remiss not to point out the media involvement in all this. Realize that debt is the fuel for government expansion. Without massive debt, the governments we live under -- federal, state, and even local -- would never have come close to reaching the intrusive scale they have. The average Joe and Jane have been lulled to sleep as the dangers of this debt by a mainstream media which is fully complicit in the project of building ever bigger government. The media does this by downplaying the debt problem when it doesn't ignore it entirely. Many times more air time and print space is given to what Donald Trump said off the record 11 years ago than, say, the explosion of federal debt under Barack H. Obama. This is journalistic maleficence in the extreme.

To paraphrase Trotsky, people may not interested in the government debt problem, but the debt is interested in them.   

Although they have started to wake up, it has not yet fully dawned on the Millennials that it will be they who are left holding the bag for this debt. It will crimp their lifestyles and stunt their economic opportunities. When this realization comes, it will radically change attitudes and voting patterns. Some say that this will shift the younger generation to the Left as evidenced by the support Crazy Bernie garnered in the Democrat primaries. But perhaps not. For when the seed corn for the future has been eaten by current consumption, all the protesting and demands in the world can't bring it back. The only logical option is to suck it up and move forward. This will not be pleasant situation, but it is the only way to build a better future. 

Another group especially vulnerable to the mountain of debt is seniors. As the ever-growing debt squeezes the life out of the economy, retirees will come to realize the unsustainability of government promises to them like Social Security, Medicare, and pensions. Seniors will instinctively turn to the government exactly at the time when Washington is less able to help them. 

The growth of a debt of the size we have smacks of government irresponsibility. The coming awareness of this can only reduce the credibility of government even further.  And this is a segue to the question of government legitimacy. 

So where to begin? 

National Public Radio (NPR), a liberal source, reports a Pew polls showing that less than 1 in 5 Americans say they trust the government 'always or most of the time,' 81 percent do not trust the government, and 74 percent say public officials put their own interests ahead of the nation's. 

And these dismal poll numbers for trust in government came before damaging revelations like:

1) the constant bungling of the Veterans Administration where civil service rules have priority over care for our vets

2) the FBI's shameful white washing of Hillary Clinton's email actions that are, or border on the, criminal, and 

3) the Wikileaks dumps showing how Hillary Clinton peddled influence for, what looks to any objective observer, donations to her Clinton Foundation.

So how about the people's representatives?

A Rasmussen poll (July 2016) found only 11 percent of respondents thought Congress was going a good or excellent job. Gallup found similar results with congress having a 20 percent approval rating and a 76 percent disapproval rating.

However it is cut, wherever you look, whether it is in polls, in conversations around the family table, in neighborhoods or around the office water cooler, you find faith in the federal government is shockingly low. 

Now for pièce de résistance. 

This is the presidential campaign. Events such as the Wikileaks dumps have shown Hillary Clinton to be an extremely corrupt government official and a bold-faced liar. This narrative is so solid that she's been labeled a liar to her face on the national stage. Indeed, Trump even called for her prosecution and jailing. How could he get away with that? Simple. It's because merely 11 percent of the American public believe Mrs. Clinton is trustworthy -- and rightfully so. 

Even Hillary Clinton's supporters accept the fact of her inherent duplicity. Unfortunately, many will still vote for her anyway for the flimsy reason that she's a woman. Others want 'free stuff,' hoping that she's not lying to them, too. 

It has been clear for over a generation that the media has a severe liberal bias. In this presidential race, Trump has expose the mass media as being a propaganda arm of the Clinton campaign. It was just recently reported by the Center for Public Integrity that, of the money journalists have contributed to the campaigns, 96 percent went to Clinton

Trump has driven this point home with a such a vengeance that the mainstream media has been stripped of its pretense of objectivity, balance, and fairness. It now stands as naked as the fabled emperor without clothes. This explains why Gallup estimates that only 32% of Americans have trust in the media, an all-time low. And as the revelations in the Wikileaks dumps sink in and Trump's charges resonate, this approval rating can only sink further.

And it is not just lack of trust in the media that is eroding its influence. The number of people who live in the liberal media bubble diminishes by the day. This is due to the growth of alternative news sources like talk radio, cable TV, and the Internet. The old media's monopoly has been broken. Also, the blind reliance on the mass media for one's news is a carryover from days past. As the generation brought up of Cronkite and Huntley & Brinkley and magazines like Newsweek, Time, and Life fade, so does the mass media's captive audience.

As for Trump and the matter of his legitimacy, the Clinton campaign is not running on Mrs. Clinton's achievements. How could they, as the woman's record as Secretary of State is one failure after another? As for her one six-year stint in the Senate, Hillary did little more than take up space and prepare her run for the presidency. So instead, the Democrats and their accomplices in the media are directing their energy at trying to demonizing Trump and his supporters, much like the Obama campaign successfully did to Mitt Romney in 2012. 

The point here is that, whoever wins the White House in November, their legitimacy is going to be tainted. This will make it extremely hard to govern. Even the legitimacy of the election process is being doubted by 41 percent of the country, who think the presidential election is rigged to favor Clinton, much like the primaries were.

We live in a representative democracy that requires the consent of the governed. With the legitimacy of Congress, the presidency, government agencies (the VA, the FBI, the IRS, Department of Education, etc.), the mass media, and even the election process itself in question, it can honestly be asked: "Can the American center hold?" If not, any bad event or set back like a recession, a major default, or horrific terrorist attack can send things spiraling in ways completely unimagined right now.

The ruling elite know the center they control is spinning at such a terrific speed that the resulting centrifugal force is flinging the various groups in society further and further apart. The trust in government and major institutions like the media were the glue that once held things together. Now, the solvent of corruption and lies is dissolving that glue. Trust is fading fast across the entire spectrum of society. Ditto legitimacy.

What can bring things back together again from the establishment's perspective? One tried and true method is war. 

I pray that I'm wrong, but don't discount the real possibility that the establishment might reach for this option. There are many in the political class who are on a constant war footing as it is. Think of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and the like. Include Hillary Clinton in with this group.

And the war required to solidify the center again can't just be relative minor like the ones the U.S. conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has to be a war that touches all levels of American society. Only war with China or Russia fit that bill.

Crazy thought, right? I hope so. But realize Yeats wrote his Second Coming in 1919. Ten years after that, the Great Depression started and ten years after that, WWII began in Europe. Yeats' time was that of the telegraph and propeller biplanes. We live in the age of cell phones, supersonic jets, the computer, and the Internet. Things today happen orders of magnitude faster than back in 1919.